More efficient thermoelectric devices could be used to generate electricity from waste heat in transportation and industrial processes, and to heat and cool buildings. Research on energy-efficient heating and cooling is closely related to efficient buildings, though much of the research can also be applied to heating and cooling of engines and industrial processes. Stanford scientists are studying the effects of energy-efficient ventilation on indoor pollution, and working to improve the design and operation of buildings that use natural ventilation to conserve electricity without sacrificing comfort. Technologies in development include new materials to convert wasted heat in vehicles and buildings to electricity; passive photonic cooling material that requires no electricity for air conditioning; a combined cooling, heating and power system for homes with an acoustic Stirling engine fueled by natural gas and solar thermal energy; renewable materials to replace plastics in making structural insulated panels that improve heating and cooling; energy-efficient designs for thermoelectric generators that capture waste heat from combustion to generate electricity.
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